Friday, July 15, 2011

Black Death

Netflix sez... (2010) R
Sean Bean stars in this historically rooted horror-thriller as Ulric, a church-appointed knight in the age of the Bubonic Plague's first wave who's tasked with investigating rumors of a woman (Carice van Houten) who can bring the dead back to life. A young monk (Eddie Redmayne) named Osmund is aiding Ulric on his quest to root out the necromancer -- and to determine whether or not she has ties to Satan.

The 73rd Virgin sez... Without having to change costumes, Sean Bean wanders over from "Game of Thrones", and Eddie Redmayne wanders over from "Pillars of The Earth". Both find verdant scenery to chew and greasy sweat to sweat and frothy spittle to fleck. Endlessly filled with bloody gurgles and bright red lawn sprinkler effects, to no particular purpose, culminating in a jump-cut edited drawing and quartering.

There are about twenty minutes, as our ragtag team of evil Christian blood-thirsters comes under the spell of the enlightened but equally vicious pagans, that are really, really spooky - like "Valhalla Rising" wanted to be, but without the giggles. And quite unintentionally, we are allowed to begin rooting for the Christians. Sniffing the burning sulfur of reverse blasphemy, the script closes out with a tacked on voice-over ending that shows the one character guaranteed to NOT become a psychopathic Christian witch-hunter, becoming exactly that. Whew...that was close.

Bean is always watchable and you are drawn in by his character's unquestioning belief in necromancers, demons, witches, etc. Redmayne is actually pretty convincing as the slightly cowardly dogma-questioning monk who accompanies the group in part to find his girlfriend, and John Lynch is a dead-ringer for late period Keith Moon. But the rest is just pointless with some howlingly modern sounding dialogue and voice-over (yes, he actually uses the word "germ" in the intro). Another in a long series of Euro government and private industry funded projects designed apparently to just infuriate Christians, and which consequently never make it to US theaters. Some, like "Agora", have been pretty good. This one blows.

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